What's Rubella, What Are Symptoms? German Measles Case at Detroit Auto Show

Car enthusiasts who attended the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month may have been exposed to Rubella while they were there.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was alerted last week that there was a person at the auto show who was later diagnosed with Rubella, which is also known as the German Measles. The person may have been contagious while at the show and could have exposed other attendees to the virus while they were there. They were reportedly there between January 13 and 15 and diagnosed after they left Detroit.

Rubella is highly contagious through coughing and sneezing and some of the symptoms are easy to mistake for a cold or the flu. Besides the coughing and sneezing, other symptoms include a low-grade fever and sore throat accompanied by a rash that starts around the face and then spreads around the rest of the body. Sometimes the infected person can also experience swollen lymph nodes, a runny nose, pink eye and a headache as well.

measles rubella vaccine
A medical worker holds a measles-rubella vaccine at a health station September 19, 2018. The virus is considered eliminated in the United States where most people are vaccinated but a case appeared at a Detroit auto show last month. Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images

Typically children experience very few symptoms and adults experience mild illness. The rash is one of the first symptoms to appear and then the others start to show a day to five days after the rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Women who are pregnant and get Rubella can have a miscarriage or can have a baby with severe birth defects like heart problems, hearing or eyesight lost, liver or spleen damage and intellectual disabilities and even brain damage, according to the CDC. The CDC recommends that women who are planning to get pregnant should make sure they're vaccinated against the virus before they get pregnant.

The virus was declared to be eliminated in the United States in 2004 due to effective vaccination. When a virus is considered eliminated that means it doesn't spread among Americans on a yearly basis and between 2005 and 2015 just eight babies were born with Congenital Rubella Syndrome, according to the CDC.

The virus is still common in other countries and can be carried and passed around by those who have traveled. Anyone, especially pregnant women, who thinks they might have Rubella or have been exposed to it should seek medical attention.​